BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

There is a feeling in the second of the five Saturdays during the World Cup we are not yet at the crunch of the competition. Some teams have laid down markers to suggest they will win – Argentina most notably – and some are all but out like Nigeria but the majority of teams are somewhere in the middle either gloriously happy because they have scarped a point that keeps them in the running or smashing themselves to pieces because they have only one point.

Australia and France aside so far with half the groups having played two games no team is – as yet – out but that will end this evening if Cameroon lose.

Early indications are that that team will not be Cameroon when Samuel Eto’o – deployed through the middle by Paul Le Guen after a frustrating game on the right flank against Japan – finds himself placed fifteen yards out after an horrendous piece of play at the back when Christian Poulsen gives the ball away at the back and Pierre Webó is able to centre low from the left.

Eto’o does not miss. Cameroon are lions rampant.

Achille Emana lashes a return from a broken down corner which beats Thomas Sørensen but goes wide of the post and for a moment it seems that the Africans will overwhelm the Europeans but before and after the goal the Danes have chances. Dennis Rommedahl beat Benoît Assou-Ekotto all ends up for pace and fires over, Jesper Grønkjaer tests Souleymanou Hamidou from range. Jon Dahl Tomasson of ten years ago might have had the first yard to convert Lars Jacobsen’s centre but – having seen him in those days – perhaps that is wishful thinking.

When Nicklas Bendtner scores Assou-Ekotto roasted Rommedahl with the winger getting on the end of a glorious 60 yard pass by Simon Kjaer and hitting a low cross in which the young forward can touch home simply with an outstretched leg from six yards out. Bendtner wanders back from his goal with the excitement of knocking in a goal in a friendly which compares to Eto’o’s all in pile on after his goal. The job that seemed done there certainly does not now.

The game goes from end to end. Rommedahl snatches up one error and almost gives his side the lead, Eto’o goes closer when the Danes give up the ball and he side foots the ball seeing it canon back from the post. This happens in the space of ninety seconds the reliable European side begin to become light headed giving p two more chances as risks are taken.

The second half promises much.

It starts well and Stephane Mbia forces a smart tip over the bar by Thomas Sørensen in the Danish goal. Assou-Ekotto is through on goal when Daniel Jensen puts in a sniper tackle sneaking the ball away with his outstretched leg, the Danes Simon Kjaer hits a fine drive from thirty yards that tests the keeper.

It carries on from end to end and back again until Assou-Ekotto gets free up front and squares to Webó who puts in a weak turn and shot. Within seconds the ball is down to Rommedahl who rips a hole in stand in right Jean Makoun and the cuts back the ball from right to left foot and smoothly strokes the ball inside the far post from close range.

Cameroon respond by taking possession and keeping it and the Danes – a robust side – fall into a defensive posture. Defeat for Cameroon means that even a win over the Dutch would see either Japan or Denmark get at least four points while Denmark having scored twice are now in a position where if they win they could draw with Japan and go though on having scored more goals.

The African build up play can be picked off – Tomasson sees a match winning shot saved by Hamidou – but the Danes have no need to chase goals. Cameroon’s Paul Le Guen brings on wide forward Mohammadou Idrissou for defender Sébastien Bassong – his intentions clear and forced.

Cameroon have craft to match their effort at last. Emana is is slipped in behind the Danes defence with a sublime pass and Sørensen’s save down to his right with an outstretched hand is stunning. From a corner Daniel Agger loses Idrissou who should have forced similar from Sørensen with a headed chance which sails over. 18 year old sub Vincent Aboubakar rattled the ball off Poulsen’s head when striking at goal causing the Dane to see stars but keeping the advantage. Aboubakar’s late running suggests that he is a star in the making in the long term if not in this World Cup.

Cameroon probe and prod the Danes resistant to the exit that not scoring would bring but they play some wonderful football as they chase the game keeping possession and attacking with pace but it is not enough and Cameroon – the nation of Roger Milla who were the first from Africa to make an impression in the World Cup – are the first team out of the African World Cup.

Netherlands are through, Denmark and Japan play for progression and Cameroon are out.

The crunch begins.

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